Is Kenya more generous than Australia?

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Are wealthy countries more generous? Should wealthy countries be more generous? Do religious populations give more?

As at 2017, Australia had a population of 25 million people, 7.7 million square kilometres of land of which only 0.8 million square kilometres of land was habitable (10%), 25,760 kilometres of coastline and 25,460 square kilometres of irrigated land. This compared to 1,000 square kilometres of irrigated land and a population of 47.6 million in Kenya.

The World Giving Index

In the 2014 CAF World Giving Index, Australia ranked number six in the World Giving Index. In the following year, Australia broke into the top five of the world’s most charitable countries due to increased giving. In 2016, Australia rose even further to number three in this leading report on global generosity, called the CAF World Giving Index.

The Index showed that 72 per cent of Australians gave money to charity in 2015 – up six percentage points on the previous year.

CAF is a charity and bank that helps donors, companies and individuals to make a bigger impact.  Every year 140 or more countries are surveyed, capturing 96% of the world and about 5.1 billion people.

What did people say?

1,000 questionnaires are completed by a representative sample of each country. The respondents cover the entire civilian and non-institutionalised population of each country for those aged 15 and above. A person is non-institutionalised if they are not in jail. In smaller countries, smaller sample sizes are used between 500 and 1000. The data for the report comes from Gallup’s World View World Poll and covers in excess of 148,000 people. Survey methods include face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews.

For those of you with degree-level training in statistics, the survey is conducted for each country with a 95% confidence level. A 95% confidence level means doing the survey with such thoroughness that the risk of being wrong is only 5%.

The report is based on what people say. Respondents are asked three key questions, which are believed to indicate giving behaviours: Did you help a stranger in the last one month? Did you donate money to charity in the last one month? and did you volunteer your time in the last one month?

Countries are ranked by the percentage of people participating in giving behaviour and also by the number of people participating in each of the three giving behaviours. Achieving a rank in the top 5 or top 10 most generous countries is clearly something praiseworthy, given how meticulously this ranking process is.

Global trends

The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Ireland and Malaysia made the top ten in 2015 global rankings.

Overall, the world’s most generous countries are among the most deprived. The 2015 and 2016 reports both showed just five of the World Giving Index top 20 are members of the G-20 – the world’s largest economies – based on five-year averages.

The 2015 report also showed that on a global level, while people have become more likely to donate money to charity or help a stranger, they are less likely to volunteer their time.

According to the 2015 report, the lead giving behaviour across all continents is helping strangers.

The report notes that national disasters or calamities have led to the rise in giving behaviours.

Countries have been challenged to improve their ability to harness such ‘emergency’ generosity for the longer-term benefit of their people.

Youth unemployment world-wide has been highlighted to affect the ability of most young people to donate money to charity.

Women are established as being more likely to give money than men, but only in high income countries.

What did Australia say?

Responses implied Australians are generous with their time, with 40 per cent of people surveyed having volunteered in the month prior to the interview (2015: 40 per cent; 2014: 37 per cent).

Two-thirds of Australians, 68 per cent in 2016, said they had helped a stranger in the past month, maintaining the score level achieved between 2013 and 2016 (2015: 66 percent; 2014: 66 per cent). People aged between 30 and 49 were most likely to have helped a stranger in 2014.

Three quarters of Australians, 73 per cent in 2016, said they had donated money in the past month, maintaining the score level achieved in 2015. (2015: 72 percent; 2014: 57 per cent)

Chief Executive of CAF Australia, Lisa Grinham, said the 2015 report highlighted new giving demographics.

“Australia is one of the most generous countries in the world and it is fantastic that people are donating money in ever greater numbers,” Grinham said.

“One of the really encouraging things shown in this report is that there has been a big increase in giving among young people. For example there has been a 10 per cent  increase of ‘helping a stranger’ over the last four years.

“We now need to help nurture this generosity as we move towards a sustained approach to giving in this country, which will benefit all kinds of voluntary organisations.”

What did Kenya say?

In the 2017 CAF World Giving report, Kenya ranked as the most generous country in Africa and as the third most generous country in the world.

Next, the most generous countries in Africa were Sierra Leone (ranked 12th in the world), Liberia (ranked 14th in the world), and Zambia (ranked 18th).

According to the World Giving Index, Kenya ranks position 3 globally with a giving score of 60%. This is in terms of people’s willingness to help a stranger, donate money or give their time in order to help others.

In Kenya, 76% of people extended a random act of kindness to someone they didn’t know – a stranger – in the month prior to interview for the 2017 global report. In donating money, 52% of Kenyans donated to charity in the 2017 report. In terms of the proportion of people who volunteer time to help others, the country scored 51%.

It is possible Kenya’s move up 18 places in the ranking of 2017 signalled a positive growth in promoting a charitable culture among Kenyans. An alternative explanation could be improvements in mobile phone access and the number of respondents able to complete the survey.

In the 2016, the prior year, in helping a stranger, Kenya is ranked position 13th globally; in donating money to charity Kenyans ranked 35th; while by volunteering time in order to help others, the country ranked 8th.

In the past, a number of giving campaigns have emerged successful, with Kenyans largely coming out to extend a hand to needy persons.

Key highlights of the generosity among Kenyans are campaigns such as the Kenyans for Kenyan initiative – a campaign in response to death and starvation in Turkana county in July 2011.

Others include blood donations after terror attack incidents, single online campaigns to raise funds for persons in need.

The most recent campaign was on social media under the hash tag #1MiliForJadudi targeting a Sh1 million donation, but instead raised Sh6 million in 48 hours.

The campaign was meant to lobby funds to enable a university student undergo brain surgery.

How do Kenya and Australia treat refugees?

Kenya is now the second biggest refugee-hosting country in Africa after Ethiopia. Kenya hosts refugees mainly from the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa region. While most people fleeing from conflict in South Sudan arrive in Kakuma in northern Kenya, most Somali refugees flee to Dadaab, located in Garissa County in the former North Eastern Province of Kenya.

2018 estimates by the CIA in its World Fact Book implied that Kenya is currently providing a home to 750,000 refugees and stateless persons. With a GDP per capita of 139,100 per person, if Liechtenstein absorbed 750,000 refugees its GDP per capita would be reduced to 6,337. If Australia with a GDP per capita of $50,300 (2017 est.) absorbed 750,000 refugees its GDP per capita would drop below Bahrain.

Where do the Kenya’s refugees come from? 527,235 refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia; 114,817 refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan; 39,180 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 27,811 from Ethiopia; 13,265 from Burundi; 10,190 from Sudan (2018).

In addition to refugees from overseas, Kenya provides a home to 159,000 internally displaced persons and 18,500 stateless persons.

IDPs represents people displaced since the 1990s by ethnic and political violence and land disputes and who sought refuge mostly in camps; persons who took refuge in host communities or were evicted in urban areas are not included in the data; data is not available on pastoralists displaced by cattle rustling, violence, natural disasters, and development projects; the largest displacement resulted from 2007-08 post-election violence (2017)

Stateless persons in Kenya numbered 18,500 in 2017. The stateless population consists of Nubians, Kenyan Somalis, and coastal Arabs; the Nubians are descendants of Sudanese soldiers recruited by the British to fight for them in East Africa more than a century ago; Nubians did not receive Kenyan citizenship when the country became independent in 1963; only recently have Nubians become a formally recognized tribe and had less trouble obtaining national IDs; Galjeel and other Somalis who have lived in Kenya for decades are included with more recent Somali refugees and denied ID cards.

Compare this to Australia and how asylum seekers were made a major issue in the 2013 parliamentary elections. According to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, as of June 2016, 3,496 people were detained in Australia and offshore detention centres. According to the migration and maritime powers legislation amendment bill 2014, the ministry has unprecedented and unchallenged power to send back a boat carrying asylum seekers into the sea, to arrest people without any charge, or to deport them to any country. Agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN’s Committee against Torture have condemned the government’s bill for disturbing the balance of the existing immigration system and denying basic human rights and protection to the asylum seekers arriving in the country.

The most dangerous mistruth in current Australian politics is that in order for lives to be saved at sea, other people – accused of no crime – must be indefinitely and arbitrarily punished offshore.

Asserted with increasing confidence as fact, this unproven link is used to justify Australia’s brutal regime of offshore detention as a necessary condition for a policy that, however harsh, ultimately serves a greater good.

The need to be seen to be “tough on borders” has outweighed all other considerations, pushing successive governments towards increasingly extreme positions, grotesque cruelties and risible rhetorical contortions in insisting their actions are reasonable, legal, or morally defensible.


35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:35-40 New International Version (NIV)

I was surprised to discover that in contrast to the image we get of Africans in Oxfam and Save the Children TV adverts in G-20 countries, Kenyans were a people showing immense generosity and tolerance by their actions; sometimes in contradiction to the World Giving Index survey results. While the results of 2014 to 2016 by Australia were praiseworthy, we have been impressed by the achievements of Kenya in absorbing more than 750,000 foreigners without the hysteria displayed by G-20 countries and without calling a summit to tackle “migrants” entering its borders.



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Is Kenya more generous than Australia?

by Editorial Team time to read: 8 min